THE wife of a senior Chinese politician once tipped as a future leader has been named as a suspect in the murder of a British businessman.
Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is being investigated in connection with the death of 41-year-old Neil Heywood, according to Chinese state television.
Mr Heywood was found dead on November 15 in Chongqing in central China.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said he welcomed an investigation into the case and added he had “taken a personal interest” in it.
He told Sky News: “I decided a few weeks ago that we should ask the Chinese authorities to investigate the death of Mr Heywood, so of course I welcome the announcement.
“The Chinese are doing as we asked them to do and we now look forward to seeing those investigations take place and in due course hearing the outcome of those investigations.”
Mr Bo, former mayor of Chongqing, has now been stripped of key posts in the ruling Communist Party and suspended from the party’s powerful 25-member Politburo on suspicion of involvement in “serious discipline violations”.
The 62 year-old had been one of China’s most popular politicians and the news that his wife is now a suspect in a murder investigation has intensified the rumours swirling around him.
Mr Bo, who made his name taking on corruption in Chongqing, suffered a spectacular fall from grace last month when he was sacked as party chief in Chongqing.
He had been expected to be elected to the Politburo’s standing committee later this year – as the party prepares for a once-in-a-decade change of leadership.
State television said both Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Mr Bo’s home, have been turned over to judicial authorities.
Mr Bo, his wife and their son were friendly with Mr Heywood but had clashed over economic interests, CNTV news said.
Mr Heywood, reportedly a former pupil at Harrow, had lived in China for 10 years where he was married with two children.
At the time of his death, the official notification said he was killed by “over-consumption of alcohol”.